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A new bioinspired method for pressure and flow sensing based on the underwater air-retaining surface of the backswimmer Notonecta


Mail, Matthias; Klein, Adrian; Bleckmann, Horst; Schmitz, Anke; Scherer, Torsten; Rühr, Peter T; Lovric, Goran; Fröhlingsdorf, Robin; Gorb, Stanislav N; Barthlott, Wilhelm (2018). A new bioinspired method for pressure and flow sensing based on the underwater air-retaining surface of the backswimmer Notonecta. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, 9:3039-3047.

Abstract

In technical systems, static pressure and pressure changes are usually measured with piezoelectric materials or solid membranes. In this paper, we suggest a new biomimetic principle based on thin air layers that can be used to measure underwater pressure changes. Submerged backswimmers (Notonecta sp.) are well known for their ability to retain air layers on the surface of their forewings (hemelytra). While analyzing the hemelytra of Notonecta, we found that the air layer on the hemelytra, in combination with various types of mechanosensitive hairs (clubs and pins), most likely serve a sensory function. We suggest that this predatory aquatic insect can detect pressure changes and water movements by sensing volume changes of the air layer under water. In the present study, we used a variety of microscopy techniques to investigate the fine structure of the hemelytra. Furthermore, we provide a biomimetic proof of principle to validate our hypothesis. The suggested sensory principle has never been documented before and is not only of interest for sensory biologists but can also be used for the development of highly sensitive underwater acoustic or seismographic sensory systems.

Abstract

In technical systems, static pressure and pressure changes are usually measured with piezoelectric materials or solid membranes. In this paper, we suggest a new biomimetic principle based on thin air layers that can be used to measure underwater pressure changes. Submerged backswimmers (Notonecta sp.) are well known for their ability to retain air layers on the surface of their forewings (hemelytra). While analyzing the hemelytra of Notonecta, we found that the air layer on the hemelytra, in combination with various types of mechanosensitive hairs (clubs and pins), most likely serve a sensory function. We suggest that this predatory aquatic insect can detect pressure changes and water movements by sensing volume changes of the air layer under water. In the present study, we used a variety of microscopy techniques to investigate the fine structure of the hemelytra. Furthermore, we provide a biomimetic proof of principle to validate our hypothesis. The suggested sensory principle has never been documented before and is not only of interest for sensory biologists but can also be used for the development of highly sensitive underwater acoustic or seismographic sensory systems.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Engineering
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > General Materials Science
Physical Sciences > General Physics and Astronomy
Physical Sciences > Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Uncontrolled Keywords:Electrical and Electronic Engineering, General Physics and Astronomy, General Materials Science
Language:English
Date:14 December 2018
Deposited On:05 Mar 2019 16:58
Last Modified:15 Apr 2020 23:15
Publisher:Beilstein-Institut
ISSN:2190-4286
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3762/bjnano.9.282
PubMed ID:30591851

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